Honda’s Acura Division has announced that its vehicle production is now back to normal following a setback caused by the Japan earthquake in March 2011. Acura told its US dealers that it should be able to distribute all ordered vehicles by March 2012. Last year, the division only sold 123,299 vehicles, as sales were limited by the supply problem in Japan.
This year, Acura becomes ambitious, aiming to sell 180,000 vehicles and to increase customer satisfaction with the help of its dealers. The division also wants to reclaim the top spot in the annual J.D. Power Initial Quality Study, wherein it placed third in 2011 at 89 problems per 100 vehicles.
Lexus topped the study with 73 problems per 100 vehicles and Honda at second with 86. Jeff Conrad, general manager of the Acura Division, said inventory shortages due to the Japan earthquake forced dealers to "get creative" to get the vehicles customers want.
Conrad revealed that the shortages required dealers to do many more trades than they usually do, but “they got through it and cooperated with one another." This year, Acura will roll out new products to dealers, including the Acura NSX advertised during the Super Bowl XLVI as well as the ILX compact sedan that is based on Honda's global Civic platform. Acura was able to get the cooperation of its dealers with its 180,000 sales goal. Mac Churchill, vice chairman of the Acura National Dealer Advisory Board, said, "They showed us the advertising they'll use to achieve it, and dealers really liked the ads."
Acura created and developed the 2013 Acura ILX compact sedan to serve as a new entry point to the premium brand, particularly targeting Generation Y customers who are made up of successful individuals in their 20s and 30s making their first foray into luxury vehicle ownership. Jon Ikeda, head of the Acura Design Studio, described these first-time luxury buyers as having the tendency to highly consider exterior styling and affordability while making sure environmental issues are addressed. Ikeda noted that with this in mind, Acura created the new Acura ILX, positioned as the first opportunity for young buyers to join the luxury market.
In designing the Acura ILX, the premium brand placed strong emphasis on fusing luxury, performance and efficiency into one premium. Although the ILX features stylish and aerodynamically efficient exterior, it boasts of a large greenhouse that allows its occupants to have a great outward view. While it has compact proportions, it still has enough room to comfortably accommodate its passengers and their luggage.
Interested customers could choose from three differently powered versions of the ILX. The entry-level version has a 2.0-liter inline 4-cylinder engine as its core, delivering up to 150 hp at 6,500 rpm and up to 140 lb-ft of torque at 4,300 rpm. This engine is mated to a Sequential SportShift 5-speed automatic transmission and is expected to enable the ILX 2.0L return an EPA estimated fuel economy ratings of 24/32 mpg city/highway. The more powerful version is powered by a 2.4-liter engine that provides 201 hp of max output at 7,000 rpm and 170 lb-ft of peak torque at 4,300 rpm. This engine is paired to a close-ratio, six-speed manual transmission, and is expected to allow the ILX 2.4L to return an EPA estimated city/highway fuel economy ratings of 20/29 mpg.
Meanwhile, eco-conscious customers could opt for the ILX Hybrid that employs a 1.5-liter inline engine partnered to an Integrated Motor Assist electric motor. Power to the wheels is delivered through a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). The Acura ILX 1.5L Hybrid is expected to return an EPA estimated city/highway fuel economy rating of 35/38 mpg.